Report: If LeBron decides to leave Miami he knows he can land anywhere he wants

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We’re only talking about this because it’s LeBron James, the best player on the planet right now. And we’re talking about this because general managers are allowed to dream — and they dream of LeBron opting out of his contract this summer (he has that option) and forcing his way to their team.

The hard facts are it’s highly unlikely LeBron James leaves Miami after this season.

If the Heat come together and win their third straight NBA Finals, he’s not bolting. If the Heat fall short in the Eastern Conference Finals, he is not likely to jump due to concerns about the public relations hit, something he doesn’t want to go through again. Besides, if your argument is he’s leaving because the Heat roster needs work, know that he trusts Pat Riley can recruit that talent to Miami better than some other team in another market can build a roster around him.

All that said, if he does leave he has options — and I don’t just mean the Lakers and Cavaliers with their cap space.

A source reportedly close to LeBron laid it out for Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst at ESPN.

“This time is going to be different,” a source close to James said about James’ view of free agency. “If LeBron decides to look at other options it won’t just be teams with cap space. He has 30 options if he wants them….

“LeBron is not thinking about free agency right now, he’s totally focused on the season,” said one James associate. “In the summer he knows he can get to any team he wants to.”

The argument is this — if LeBron goes to Riley and the Heat and says “I’m opting out and you have to work a deal with the Clippers (or whomever) or you will lose me and get nothing” then the Heat would find a way to make a deal. The Clippers would trade away whatever assets they needed to. If LeBron forces things deals would get done. LeBron James is one of a few players in the league who have the power to do this if they really want, he has the leverage. It’s good to be the King.

But having that power and exercising it are two different things.

In the end LeBron will look around the league and realize that even if Miami needs some roster help they have the best free agent closer in the game in Riley recruiting guys to play in warm weather Miami, with all its perks, in a state with no income tax. Oh, and by the way you get a legitimate shot at a ring if you play with LeBron. If Chris Bosh or someone else bolts Miami this summer, that roster spot can be filled.

And LeBron doesn’t even have to opt out. He can always just keep going with this contract.

But GMs can dream.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.

 

Paul Millsap says the expected, he will “most likely” opt out of contract

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This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:

Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.

Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.

“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.

Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).

By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).

But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.